On a night where the wind chill provided a much needed cool off from the first days of summer in Toronto, Josh Groban dazzled and swung at the Budweiser Stage, in front of a crowd of excited fans.
The night began at 7pm, with Eleri Ward presenting an acoustic show with selected songs from her 2021 album “A Perfect Little Death”, including “Every Little Death”, “Losing My Mind” and “Sunday”. Most of her songs are in a minor key, which set an introspective tone to her performance. She was soon followed by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, who in contrast played a very uplifting and fun-filled set, full of jazz and swing standards. Some of the highlights of their show included the fan favorite “When the Saints Go Marching In”, a piano solo with excerpts of The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” and other traditional songs in their repertoire. The veteran band has existed since 1961, and continues to bring traditional North American music to stages around the world.
At 8:40 PM sharp, the orchestra was already set up on stage, and the curtains dropped for Josh Groban’s triumphant entrance. He started the show with his version of Frank Sinatra’s “Over and Over”, the first song from his 2020 album “Harmony”. Obviously he wasn’t able to tour to promote that album until now, which makes the occasion even more special. This was followed by another cover from the same album, Sting’s “Shape of My Heart”. Josh had already sung this tune with Sting, and on “Harmony” he paired up with Leslie Odom Jr., but on stage, he sang it by himself, with a beautiful orchestral arrangement.
For a style that’s filled with so many dramatic songs, Josh showcases an incredible amount of humor throughout his set. He introduced Robbie Williams’ “Angels” by telling the story of how he received flowers from Robbie, and by saying this about the British singer “I’m straight as an arrow, but if he asked me, I totally would…”, which got a good laugh from the crowd. On a more serious note, he dedicated the song to the front-line workers of the pandemic, and was met with great applause.
With three songs from the new album already showcased, it was time to dig into his catalogue, and he sat on piano to play and sing an emotional version of “February Song”, from 2006’s “Awake”. It was followed by the inspirational “Granted”, which had a coral join the band on stage and got a standing ovation from the crowd.
Back to the “Harmony” songs for a second, Josh brought out the romantic and lush “She”, originally written by French singer Charles Aznavour, which was made famous by Elvis Costello and featured in a million films. A quick break to showcase Lucia Micarelli’s violin solo followed, and soon we were brought back to the movies with “Cinema Paradiso”, beautifully presented by Josh in fluent Italian. Lucia also joined the singer on a duet, covering Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now”.
The night shifted gears with the bombastic “Alla Luce del Sole”, the first song from his debut album, also sung in Italian. Josh’s beautiful baritone voice was in top form through the whole concert, but even more evidently here. This number ended with Josh on drums, on a crazy duel with his percussionist and yet another drummer, to which the crowd responded wildly!
Carrying on with the humor on stage, Josh teased a few members from the audience, including the couple Fritz and Cathy, who are getting married next week and to whom the singer dedicated the Peter Gabriel song “The Book of Love”. This was followed by a jazzy version of Kenny Loggins’ “Celebrate Me Home” and “Not While I’m Around”, from Sweeney Todd, where Josh was accompanied by Eleri Ward.
On “Alejate”, which was preceded by an acoustic guitar solo, Josh flexes his Spanish skills, on this version of Celine Dion’s “Just Walk Away”, which gained dramatic overtones. The night progressed with a few numbers from the singer’s own repertoire: the uplifting and gospel-sounding “The Fullest”, and what is most likely his greatest hit, “You Raised Me Up”, with the audience bringing out their cell phones to illuminate the venue. The ending song was “The Impossible Dream”, from the musical “Man of La Mancha”, where the character Don Quixote states his mission and defines what he means by following his quest. It was an appropriate ending to a night where Josh’s talents were in full display, and the crowd left more than pleased with the whole show.
The Harmony Tour continues through the US with about twenty more dates, and VIP experiences available. You can find all the details about Josh Groban’s upcoming performances on his social media and also by visiting HERE.